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SASP at NASP and 2012 APA Convention highlights

We reflect on the recent National Association of School Psychologists Conference events and look forward to the upcoming 2012 APA Convention programming and opportunities to connect with other school psychology students
SASP booth at NASP

Once again at the NASP Convention, SASP had the opportunity to meet and recruit new members at APA Division 16's booth in the exhibition hall. Every year, this is the perfect opportunity for us to meet many of you and talk with professors from school psychology programs around the U.S. and Canada to encourage SASP recruitment within their programs. This was once again another successful year at NASP. We were able to recruit approximately 25 new members and a few programs expressed interest in starting a SASP chapter at their university to become more involved with our organization. We are excited to provide many prospects to both our continuing and new members, such as opportunities to publish in FSTP, present at our APA mini-convention, and connect with other school psychology students. We enjoyed connecting with many of you in person at NASP and look forward to additional opportunities at future conventions.

SASP members share their reflections on this year's NASP Convention:

On the first day of the convention I attended a session by Rebecca Rahschulte, MEd, NCSP, Julie Morrison, PhD, and David Barnett, PhD (not present) from the University of Cincinnati. The paper presentation was titled “Beyond Intervention Fidelity: The Critical Role of Implementation Fluency.” I was intrigued by the title because we spent a lot of time in our program discussing the importance of intervention fidelity. We cannot ensure that we are correctly determining an intervention’s effectiveness if it is not being implemented as it was intended or designed. We know from our education on reading skills that reading fluency refers to the accuracy and speed (prosody is sometimes included as well) of reading.

The presenters from the University of Cincinnati stipulated that intervention fidelity only focuses on the accuracy of implementation and that intervention (or implementation) fluency involves measuring both the accuracy and speed. They proposed the application of the instructional hierarchy (acquisition, fluency, generalization, adaptation; Haring & Eaton, 1978) to teachers who are learning to implement new interventions. Instructional pace has been shown to decrease problem behaviors and improve accuracy of student responses but this “instructional pace” research has not been applied to interventions. They presented some research they had conducted about implementation fluency and the Detect, Practice, Repair math intervention. The intervention lent itself well to this type of research because the manual/instructions state that each session should take between 11 and 13 minutes. Unfortunately it would be difficult to conduct this type of research with other interventions or even to monitor the fluency of interventions because not many interventions (that I know of) give clear guidance about the time for sessions. Some interventions focus on a mastery approach where the students do not move on to the next activity until they have demonstrated mastery of the current task.

I still think this idea of intervention fluency is an important one. I guess I never really focused my thinking on solely the speed of an intervention session. However, when I think about fidelity of an intervention, I do think about the way an intervention is delivered. Delivering a manualized intervention can be time-consuming and frustrating for both the interventionist (teacher or other school professional) and the students if the interventionist needs to constantly refer back to the manual or instructions. The pace of the entire intervention slows and students can be more easily distracted. This reminds me of when I was first administering cognitive assessments. The first few times I administered the WISC or the DAS it took me forever to finish! Those poor children had to sit through me flipping through pages to find instructions and determine if I needed to query. Now that I have had more practice with assessment, I can administer the WISC with higher fluency. I know more of the directions from memory and what correct answers for verbal responses should be. We should give teachers sufficient opportunities to practice interventions before asking them to implement them with students.

My first NASP convention was filled with numerous highlights, including presenting a poster for the first time, meeting members of the SASP board and distinguished school psychology faculty, and working at the APA Division 16 booth. I especially enjoyed attending a reception held by the International School Psychology Association. It was exciting to learn more about the contemporary status of school psychology internationally and the upcoming conference in Montreal this summer. I also enjoyed meeting several school psychology scholars from around the world. A conversation with Dr. Huijun Li (Department of Psychiatry, Harvard University) about her recent research on early onset schizophrenia in China piqued my interest and led me to attend her terrific presentation “Early Identification of Children and Adolescents at Risk for Psychosis.”

A personal highlight of mine was spending time at the Division 16/SASP booth in the Exhibit Hall sharing information and recruiting new members for SASP and Division 16. I got to spend time talking to greats in the field of school psychology. I had a particularly funny conversation with a few trainers about the graduate school to academia trajectory that went something like work hard, work harder, work even harder followed by a brief feeling of utopia, shortly followed by death. This was all in good fun, of course! They were truly inspiring and encouraging in the advice they gave to a future academic, making the experience truly once in a lifetime!

Highlights for me were attending a lecture about the use of EEG data to identify areas of potential risk, and to add in more of a biological aspect to the practice of school psychologists. They are finding that through EEG scans, brain waves are lighting up various parts of the brain even during resting states, and then are correlating these with the same areas that would be affected given these individuals' trauma history, psycho-social concerns, and learning disability diagnoses. I think this really opens a door for bringing in these biological aspects into school settings, and I would be particularly interested in having discussions around neuroplasticity and neurogenesis, and how incorporating these biological aspects can be great, but also discussing the brain's capability to continually re-organize and how that impacts the way we perceive general intelligence and our intervention work in schools. I also greatly enjoyed attending mindfulness seminars, and the potential benefits these practices have not only for individual students, but entire classes and schools. Lastly, Chris Riley-Tilman gave a phenomenal lecture on the applied elements of single-case design research and the way we consider empirically based treatments, as well as data in general, to make decisions about these individual students. Dr. Riley-Tilman is at the forefront of our field and is someone to absolutely watch out for over the next few decades.

Presentations

Scott McCarthy, a school psychology intern in Waterford, CT, presents research related to his dissertation at the NASP 2012 Annual ConventionScott McCarthy, a school psychology intern in Waterford, Conn., presents research related to his dissertation at the NASP 2012 Annual Convention.